Google considered silencing Epic's antitrust complaints... by buying them

Soupreme

Posts: 36   +2
Staff
WTF?! While its ongoing feud with Apple is rather well documented, Epic Games is also in the middle of an antitrust complaint against Google over the removal of Fortnite from the Play Store. According to newly released court documents, Google at some point considered simply buying out the company in order to quash legal action.

In the documents, Epic claims that Google was afraid of Epic's moves to dodge the 30% commission charged on payments through Google Play and offer Fortnite (and its very lucrative associated microtransactions) directly, quoting an internal document describing Epic's plans as a "contagion" that could spread to other developers and platforms. In Epic's own words:

Google has gone so far as to share its monopoly profits with business partners to secure their agreement to fence out competition, has developed a series of internal projects to address the “contagion” it perceived from efforts by Epic and others to offer consumers and developers competitive alternatives, and has even contemplated buying some or all of Epic to squelch this threat.

It's still unclear as to when these discussions took place, as the documents only have Epic quoting the internal messages second-hand, and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney made it clear that Google had never reached out to Epic with these discussions -- in fact, Epic weren't aware of them.

The company also alleges that Google had reached out to Epic's VP and co-founder to gauge the interest in a special deal to bring Fortnite to the Play Store, as well as discussing how directly downloading and sideloading the game was "frankly abysmal" and "an awful experience" -- a fact that Epic's lawyers argue is intentional, claiming that Google have erected barriers to make sideloading apps seem scary and insecure.

According to them, Google's own staff have acknowledged internally that they provide a "[p]oor user experience" for would-be sideloaders, with "15+ steps to get app [via sideloading] vs 2 steps with Play or on iOS", a far cry from the experience of directly downloading and installing, say, Google Chrome on a Windows PC.

In any case, the offer for a deal was rejected, and Epic claims that Google responded to its decision to directly distribute Fortnite by pushing "exciting" statistics about the dangers of sideloaded apps to journalists covering that move.

The complaint accuses Google of anticompetitive behavior with its apps as far back as 2009, making agreements with OEMs and mobile network operators to "drive developer and user communities towards Android market" and away from competing OEM- or MNO-own storefronts, as well as more recently dropping the hammer on an attempted deal to include a dedicated Epic Games with OnePlus phones.

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wiyosaya

Posts: 6,706   +5,139
That would have been a smart move. :facepalm: It would have surely brought more anti-trust complaints. What were they thinking? :rolleyes:
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,297   +2,539
Remember when Google removed the clause "Don't be evil", from it's code of conduct?

I think that they modified the "Don't be evil" motto buy just dropping the "don't" part at this point.

What am I saying? Nothing has fundamentally changed, otherwise people working there wouldn't need a "Don't be evil" motto to begin with.
 

dnous

Posts: 39   +40
The company also alleges that Google had reached out to Epic's VP and co-founder to gauge the interest in a special deal to bring Fortnite to the Play Store, as well as discussing how directly downloading and sideloading the game was "frankly abysmal" and "an awful experience" -- a fact that Epic's lawyers argue is intentional, claiming that Google have erected barriers to make sideloading apps seem scary and insecure.
Well it is intentional. The intent is to make users think twice before sideloading anything because it is up to the user to determine whether the software is harmful or not. It's a safety measure, not something implemented to spite on Epic. That's more Apple's thing.
 

Fearghast

Posts: 449   +352
Considering Chinese Tencent behind Epic, this "deal" seems highly improbable.
More like a fantasy of one oblivious lawyer in Google.
 
Considering Chinese Tencent behind Epic, this "deal" seems highly improbable.
More like a fantasy of one oblivious lawyer in Google.


Tencent only has 40% ownership in Epic Games and cannot invest more (as per their agreement) without Epic Games giving approval (I.e. they can't just buy Sony's 1.9% share of Epic). And Sweeney owns over 50%. So it really is more of what Sweeney wants Epic does not Tencent. And with 50% he could deny or not deny Tencent buying more of Epic Games. In fact, with Sweeny having over 50% if he wanted to sell the company (say to MS or Apple minus regulatory hurdles) he can, and that forces Tencent to surrender their percentage as well. Corps run by those who have 50%+ of the votes not by those who have 40% or 49.999% of the votes. And believe me, Sweeny is not giving up his 50+ percentage.
 
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Aceseven

Posts: 117   +173
Shoot, that would have been awesome, to watch google kill off epic like it does to most of its ideas.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,851   +2,204
TechSpot Elite
"According to newly released court documents, Google at some point considered simply buying out the company in order to quash legal action."
The fact that this was even an option shows just how bad capitalism has become. It has truly become a monster.